The Uplifting Power of a Stranger

Here we are in the Christmas season. It has, in a way, been a struggle to get here. Now we are it seems that the politicians can’t decide how we should spend Christmas because of Covid-19.

I believe that no one is waiting on the politicians making any decisions and I think that people have already made up their own minds about what they are doing. Some will have their usual Christmas, some are having a different Christmas which might involve Skype or Facetime. Listening to radio phones ins and other such things, people already know what they’re doing.

I can understand why people are doing what they want, since March everyone has been told what to do and it’s getting on most people’s nerves. They just want a moment of normality in a year which has been far from it.

We all know that the festive season is not a great time of year anyway for many, many people but now add into the mix the past nine months, the pandemic, the loss of a “normal” life and we have a festive season that is going to see much higher rates of mental health issues and a lot more lonliness. The two often go together, as I’m sure everyone knows.

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling particularly low. I’d had a couple of “curl up in bed” anxiety attacks. In my head nothing was going right, nothing would ever go right. I was in a “what is the point?” situation, I know many of you know what I’m talking about. I also couldn’t be bothered speaking to any one.

The thing about having a dog is that you have to take them out. Marly, you definitely have to take out because he has a lot of energy. He might have turned eight recently but he loves being busy during the day, out and about, sniffing around, meeting his doggy pals, meeting new doggy pals, chasing squirrels, eating random things, teaching puppies how to mis-behave – all the usual things that dogs get up to day-to-day. He likes to be busy from about seven in the morning until about seven at night with a few power naps in between.

During this time when I didn’t want to speak to anyone I got Marly ready for his last big walk of the day and decided to take a slightly different route as I didn’t want to have to bump into anyone I knew and therefore would have to make any kind of conversation.

Life is a funny thing. We headed off on our different route, not miles out of the way, just a little bit. It was quiet on the path we’d taken. In the distance I saw a woman with a dog, I didn’t recognise her or the dog so I knew I could get away with just saying ‘hello’ to her.

Or so I thought. As soon as we were near enough she started talking to Marly which brought me into it. While Marly and her dog couldn’t have cared less about each other (Marly lay down on his side and took in a snooze), the woman and I spent twenty minutes talking. What were we talking about? Many things, her bathroom conversion, Glaswegians coming to Edinburgh to shop, my pen pal, Christmas decorations, many, many things.

There it was, twenty minutes later and it was getting dark and we decided we ought to get on (plus Marly’s snores were becoming embarrassing). We parted company and I realised instantly that I felt so much better for our chat. I felt uplifted almost. I’d engaged in a conversation and it hadn’t killed me.

The woman didn’t know I’d been in a low spell. She was just out for a walk with her dog, like me, but she made such a difference to me in twenty short minutes. Maybe I made a difference to her as well, who knows?

Marly and I had a great walk, I felt energised. That’s all it takes sometimes, just to have a chat about this, that and not a lot, just to get you going again. In that fairytale part of my mind I wondered where she had come from. I’d never seen her before although I’ve lived in and around this area most of my life, it would be easy to drift off and believe that she was “sent” to help. This isn’t a Christmas movie though and I saw her from a distance a few days later.

Unless she really was an angel off on her way to help someone else…